South-east governors rose from an emergency meeting in Enugu on Friday and announced a ban on all the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in their geo-political zone.
The defence headquarters had declared IPOB “a militant terror group” earlier on Friday.
It was learnt that the governors were acting on a presidential directive as a pre-condition to reduce military presence in the region.
There were hot arguments at the meeting over the appropriateness of the governors succumbing to a directive from Abuja, insiders said.
The governors had been accused of tacitly supporting IPOB.
The launch of Operation Python Dance II has raised tension in the south-east, leading to reported deaths in Aba, Abia state, and disruption to economic activities.
In the communique, the governors asked the leadership of IPOB and all other aggrieved groups to make their positions on all national issues and submit to the committee of governors, Ohaneze Ndigbo, and the members of the national assembly from the zone through the chairman of the south-east governors forum.
Legal experts said that the proscription may just be an academic exercise.
“IPOB is not a registered organisation, has no legal basis for existence and cannot be logically proscribed. You can only proscribe what operates legally,” a senior advocate of Nigeria said.
COMMUNIQUÉ ARISING FROM THE EMERGENCY MEETING OF SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS AT THE EXCO CHAMBERS, GOVERNMENT HOUSE, ENUGU, ON FRIDAY, 15TH SEPTEMBER, 2017
In view of the prevailing security situation in the South East and its attendant consequences, the South East Governors hereby resolve as follows:
1. All activities of IPOB are hereby proscribed. IPOB and all other aggrieved groups are advised to articulate their position on all National issues and submit to the Committee of Governors, Ohaneze Ndigbo and National Assembly Members from the South East Zone, through the Chairman, South East Governors Forum.
2. All Governors of South East Zone are to ensure compliance in their respective State.
3. South East Governors Forum, Ohaneze Ndigbo and National Assembly Members do hereby reinforce their commitment to a united and indivisible Nigeria.
4. We also reinforce our desire for the restructuring of Nigeria where all National issues will be discussed and amicably settled to achieve justice and fairness to every Nigerian.
5. We reiterate our earlier position that the November 18, 2017 Governorship election in Anambra State must hold.
6. Accordingly, we appeal to Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR to please, withdraw the Military in the South East Zone, while Police perform their traditional role of maintaining law and order.
7. South East Governors have taken concrete steps to protect lives and property of indigenes and non-indigenes in the South East.
8. We are in touch with the Northern Governors Forum, they have assured us of the safety of all our people living in the north and we have also planned for exchange of visits between the Governors and to re-enforce the confidence of Nigerians in this respect.
9. In keeping with our earlier position, we wish to assure Nigerians that full investigation is ongoing on all allegations of killings, maiming and other unlawful conduct in the South East Zone within this period. The Governors and the Security agencies are in agreement that appropriate action will be taken against anyone found culpable.
10. We advise all residents of the South East to go about their normal businesses as Government of each State is committed to protecting everyboby.
11. Finally, we advise our people in the South East to please be Law abiding.
Engr. Nweze Dave Umahi, FNSE, FNATE
Governor of Ebonyi State/
Chairman, South East Governors Forum